March 16, 2015

Elvis Presley Question

Question:  What Church of the Brethren deacon and country western singer was the headliner for the July 30, 1954 show which served as the public debut for Elvis Presley?

Answer:  Slim Whitman, longtime member and deacon at the Jacksonville, Florida Church of the Brethren.

Advertised as a Hillbilly Hoedown, appearing in addition to Slim Whitman and Billy Walker were 'Sugarfoot' Collins, 'Sonny' Harvelle, Tinker Fry and 'Curly' Harris. The show began at 8:00 on the night of July, 30, 1954, and they started with Elvis, Scotty and Bill performing 'That's Alright Mama'. Elvis was so nervous he stood up on the balls of his feet and shook his leg in time with the music, a move he sometimes used in the studio. To his shock and horror the young girls in the audience went crazy, yelling and applauding. Scotty said, "We didn't know what was going on when all those people started screaming and hollering."
Next they did 'Blue Moon of Kentucky' and when Elvis got offstage he asked why people were yelling at him. Someone told him it was because he was shaking his leg, which with the baggy pleated pants created a wild gyrating effect in time with the music. Later in the show they returned and did the same two numbers along with 'I'll never let you go (Little Darlin)', a new song they had been working on. The following year they returned to the Shell for the second and last time for Bob Neal's eighth annual Country Music Jamboree.

July 30, 1954 advertisement in the Memphis Press Scimitar